Aim for the stars on a stroll along St. Louis’ top dining and entertainment thoroughfare.More than A century ago, St. Louis streetcars used the Loop, a stretch of Delmar Boulevard in the suburb of University City, to turn around and do a 180 straight back to St. Louis. Today the Loop is a destination — a revitalized six-block shopping, dining and entertainment district that buzzes day and night with an artsy vibe.
The sidewalk doubles as the St. Louis Walk of Fame, with 128 (and counting) stars honoring hometown heroes from Yogi Berra to Tina Turner. As the Loop has expanded eastward into St. Louis proper, those stars now stretch toward the Delmar Loop MetroLink station, an access point to what the American Planning Association calls one of the 10 greatest streets in America. While there, check out these highlights:
1 Blueberry Hill For 40 years, people have found their thrill at this landmark bar/restaurant/music club that’s the heart of the Loop. The decor is nostalgic — jukeboxes, dart boards, pop-culture memorabilia — but the atmosphere is college-town cool thanks to patrons from nearby Washington University. The basement Duck Room sells out quickly for performances by hometown favorite Chuck Berry, whose star graces the sidewalk outside and whose statue stands across the street. 6504 Delmar Blvd., (314) 727-4444, www.blueberryhill.com
2 Vintage Vinyl Think of the John Cusack film High Fidelity and you’ll understand the passion behind St. Louis’ top independent record store. Yes, records — tens of thousands of LPs ranging from secondhand Smothers Brothers to the Kings of Leon deluxe LP issued for 2011’s National Record Store Day. (Stop by April 21 for this year’s festivities.) CD selections run equally broad, especially in jazz. While the store champions local artists, it also hosts jam sessions by national acts headlining at concert hot spots around town.
6610 Delmar Blvd., (314) 721-4096, www.vintagevinyl.com
3 Pi Pizzeria Pi’s deep-dish pizzas and inventive topping combinations earn raves in a town where thin cracker-crisp crusts smothered with Provel cheese is the pizza norm. President Obama himself called in an order, inviting Pi’s owners to whip up 20 pizzas at the White House. On crowded? nights, an impressive beer list and happy-hour specials help pass the time until a table opens up.
6144 Delmar Blvd., (314) 727-6633, www.restaurantpi.com
4 Phoenix Rising A fixture on Delmar Boulevard for 20 years, this eclectic gift shop is a visitor’s best bet for souvenirs that capture the Loop’s creative spirit. Consider a delicate silver pendant engraved with “We All Shine Differently” ($74) or a whimsical dog statue fashioned from cable from St. Louis’ iconic Gateway Arch ($45).
6331 Delmar Blvd., (314) 862-0609, www.shopphoenixrising.com
5 Pin-Up Bowl This art deco mashup of a martini bar and an eight-lane bowling alley rocks ’n’ rolls until 3 a.m. Potent signature cocktails such as the Dutch Harvest (with van Gogh apple vodka) or the Sicilian Twist (Absolut with limoncillo) embolden patrons to attempt a perfect 300 — or at least to challenge the 257 rolled by rap star Nelly on one of his occasional drop-ins.
6191 Delmar Blvd., (314) 727-5555, www.pinupbowl.com
6 Rooftop Terrace Bar at the Moonrise Hotel Eight stories above the Loop, this open-air retreat is an ideal spot to take in the skyline views and chill after a hard day at work. A rotating model of the moon competes for attention with the real luna. Snag a comfy couch and settle in with a cocktail, a glass of wine or a local microbrew.
6177 Delmar Blvd., (314) 721-1111, www.moonrisehotel.com